I did something last night that I haven’t done in a long time: I read an old journal. You have probably heard how important it is to journal so you can get your thoughts out of your head and begin to process how you are feeling etc. etc. but wow, let me tell you, there is real benefit to going back and looking at what you wrote in the past…looking at how far you have come.
I don’t know about you but I tend to avoid anything that is going to upset me. The few times that I have gone against my better judgement and read something on Facebook that promises to “make me cry” I have always regretted it. I just don’t need any more sadness. You? Like Facebook posts, old journal writings hold the promise of sad feelings, with one exception: I know exactly how bad it is going to be when I read what has happened in my own life.
Curiosity overcame me last night and I cracked open a journal that I had started to write in two days after entering a women’s shelter. I had been unpacking a box of odds and ends and found this journal right at the bottom… I recognised it right away. Taking a deep breath, literally, I opened it and was immediately transported back to September 2010…
The first part was all about the details that had happened leading up to my leaving. It was surprising to me that I had forgotten some of the little things, details and events that once remembered brought back a wave of memories – thankfully not as horrendous to re-live as I would have thought - I carried on.
Soon I was reading about people whose name’s I had long forgotten, people whose faces and stories brought with them a remembered sense of camaraderie, of sisterhood, of survivor-hood. These women and their children were like me and mine; they had found themselves in that place of shelter just like I did. These were women who had shown incredible bravery who, like me, had to choose to trust others for their own safety as well as their children’s.
Of the women who were homeless in that place, often transients on their way, needing a bed for a night or two, I learned of kindness and frailty. These women taught me about strength through addictions and the incredible resilience of the human spirit. They had seen more pain than I had I’m sure and they certainly had very little to give, yet give they did. My daughter has a teddy bear, given to her by a woman who had been traveling with it, a remnant of her old life she had said… treasure.
I write this with tears in my eyes. I am not usually an emotional writer but I offer no apology for the tone of this post. Domestic Violence claims the lives of thousands of women every year. I am a survivor and last night, reading that journal, I remembered who I am. I have had a hard time lately, struggling with issues of abuse (my ex is as horrible as ever). I have felt depressed and anxious and have been struggling with negative coping (overeating). I write this not to elicit sympathy or pity but rather to help myself to put an end to that.
I am a survivor of Domestic Violence. I am proud of the person I have become and the choices that I have made. If I fall, I will get up and I will try again. I will remember the women who have impacted my life and I will carry their stories with me as I move forward. I am very glad now that I wrote in that journal, though at the time I really didn’t think I would ever go back and read what I had written, in fact I had no intention of doing so. Journal writing is not just about getting the “bad stuff out” it is also, as I have learned, a way to see how far you have come.by